OK. I admit it. Ellen DeGeneres was a great choice to replace Paula Abdul on the judges’ panel. The show needs some comic relief and Ellen can actually be funny on purpose. Paula was just…you know…funny, as in “Yoo-hoo! Anybody home? Earth to Paula!” Like all great comics Ellen demonstrates the ability to cut right to the heart of the matter. For example, her likening of the on-stage demeanor of the annoying “Skiboskii” to that of a leopard stalking back and forth in a cage was perfect. Ellen seemed totally at ease and in her element. And I think that her criticisms will be much more creative and genuine than “That was a little pitchy, dogg!” Or, “Oh, honey, I’m sorry, you’re just not gonna make it.” Or, “That was terrible!” You know what I mean?
The first night of Hollywood week demonstrated that while everybody thinks they’ve got talent, only a handful really do. That’s why true talent is rewarded as highly as it is—it’s extremely rare. Numerous people crashed and burned miserably last night. But there were a few contenders.
Hands down, the most electrifying performance was Andrew Garcia’s reworking of “Straight Up” by Paula Abdul. I was ready to cringe, but Andrew’s acoustic arrangement was one of the most daring performances I’ve ever seen on Idol.
- Crystal Bowersox—Janis Joplin reincarnated. She even has that rugged, hard-partying look like Janis. Idol fans love these bluesy females to a point, but they just never make it at the end. She’ll have a good run, though.
- Lilly Scott—Did a cool version of an Ella Fitzgerald song. Risky, since Ella was one of our true American artists. Lilly put her own spin on it and it really worked.
- Michael Lynche—Just goes to show you that you can’t judge a book by its cover. The guy’s built like a defensive lineman, and he comes out with an acoustic guitar and does a sweet version of “Waiting On The World To Change” by John Mayer. Don’t think he’s got the goods to make it to the final 24, though.
- Casey James—This year’s ruggedly handsome, blue-eyed blues guy. Women will swoon over him. Plays a pretty mean guitar, but it remains to be seen what his vocal chops are.
- Didi Benami—My personal favorite so far this year. Didi’s a natural beauty with a sweet personality that just exudes grace and charm. She has a real shot to be in the final 24.
Tonight we start the group competition which is always interesting.